Practical Ecommerce

Seek Quality Visitors

I’m no Search Engine Optimization expert. Never have been, and most likely never will be. I’ve found that SEO is such a niche market that anyone offering these services shouldn’t have time to do anything but.

I do, however, work with store owners everyday and am often asked what can be done to drive more traffic to online stores. I’m often told that a significant increase is desired not to push more people throughout the site as much as it is to push more sales. A good sell-through ratio (that’s the percentage of purchasing visitors versus the total number of visitors) is a goal by all. And when you think about costs to run an online store, it should be the goal.

What’s missing with many campaigns is the true link between visitors and potential customers. It’s logical that any online store owner would want more traffic, but there’s always a question about whether the bulk of traffic coming through is just quantity… or quality. Think about it—is your online SEO and ad campaign really targeting a specific audience? I’m going to bet half of you reading this don’t really know.

It amazes me how many online entrepreneurs put money and faith into the hands of an SEO expert, yet have no clue exactly how their target audience is being reached, or if it is aggressively being sought at all. Most don’t even take the time to ask. The comment, “Oh, I’m on the first page now,” is the usual rebuttal to my comments, but the simple fact is, it takes more than high rankings to attract key players. If you’re not taking the time to really target those who would benefit from what you have to offer, you’re ignoring people anxiously waving greenbacks right in front of your face.

Previously I’ve mentioned that the design and navigation of your site is what keeps people in your site, but it’s just as important to invite people who want your product line— after all, they’re relying on many search engines to find you. And if they’re using terms that are more specific (like those of us who know the web and don’t want to waste time with thousands of results returning on single, generic terms) you want to make sure that at least one of the top listings rings the bell on your establishment’s door.

While working off both generic and specific terms means more of an investment on your end, the research of what’s needed is actually quite inexpensive. A good tracking program can tell you what search terms someone used to be directed to your site—key those terms into a search engine and see where you rank that day. But you can also play off your product names and categories. Then there are visitors and customers who may write or call. You can catch some pretty good search terms just by reading emails from people looking for specific items or product lines, and by jotting down words potential customers use when trying to explain what they need. Simply keep a list of these; an SEO expert can then extract terms they think will work for your specific business.

And if you really aren’t sure where to start, return to grade school. Forget what you know about what you sell. If you were searching online for the first time for one of your products, what would you type in the search box? Think about it—another word for replica is knockoff. Just remember, you don’t have to be SEO savvy to provide someone with key information about your target audience. After all, you, of all folks, should have a good idea about what they want and how they go about finding what they need.

Pamela Hazelton

Pamela Hazelton

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